Nevada’s Black Book Of Noted Casino Cheaters

Joseph Moody, recent addition for running scams in Vegas, is shown next to a copy of the Nevada Black Book Source: Nevada Department of Corrections/Mob Museum/Casino.org Every game has its fair share of cheaters and the gambling industry has no shortage of conniving players that scheme to illegally trump the house edge. While there are advantage players who skilfully and legally play to gain an advantage over the house, there many who take illegal turns to arrive at extensive wins. The worst of these illegal players in Las Vegas find themselves in “Nevada’s Black Book,” a list of people the Nevada Gaming Control Board have completely banned from any gambling establishment in the entire state. Originally established in 1960, this “black book” contains the casino cheaters, felons, ne’er-do-wells, and general hooligans who threatened the entire industry. Read on for more information about the Book, criteria for the unsavory list, and which notorious casino cheaters deserve a dishonorable mention.

What Is the Black Book?

The Black Book is like the Ninth Circle of Hell for those who dare to deceive the system. Advantage players commonly are asked to leave after consistently beating the house, but the Black Book is for those who usually complete criminal acts. Once you make this book, you are completely and indefinitely kicked out of the industry in Nevada. Officially known as the Nevada Gaming Control Board Excluded Person List, this book was truly a “black book” when first created. The reason for its existence then and now was so the gambling industry could convince American Congress that it could competently police itself. The board wanted to maintain the industry without creating a disturbance in the national government. an image of the Vegas Strip skyline taken from the VooDoo Lounge at the top of the Rio Hotel-Casino Source: Rich Brian, Las Vegas Review Journal

Famous Felons in the Book

The Book (now silver in colour) is only 36 pages long with 35 names, but the list contains some of the most notorious names in the history of gambling crimes. In one of the earliest forms of the Book, only 11 names had made it onto the formidable pages. One these early names was famously mobster boss Tony “The Ant” Spilotro. Small in stature but mighty in his wreaking of violence, Spilotro was an enforcer for the Chicago Outfit in Vegas during the 1970s and 1980s. His main job was to protect the Outfit’s illegal “skim” of casino profits. He made the banned list in the late 1970s. By 19886, he had disappointed his crime overseers, who arranged his murder in 1986. Spilotro is also famously the inspiration behind the Scorsese film, Casino. Another famous mobster on the list is Sam Giancana. Giancana supposedly had ties with the CIA and had gained control of casinos like Sands and Desert Inn. He was also the crime boss for the Chicago Outfit from 1957 to 1966. Like Spilotro, his talent was skimming profits and managed to be one of the first gangsters recorded on the list. Spilotro was linked to Giancana’s murder in 1975. The most recent addition, topping the number of misfits out at 35, was Jeffrey Martin. In 2016, he was convicted of scamming the Bellagio about nearly $1.2 million. In cahoots with Mark Branco, his brother in-law who was a croupier, and three others, he called his bet after the dice landed in a game of craps. The men beat a 452-billion to 1 odds to grab their massive illegal reward. A grand jury indicted them with theft and cheating and sentenced them to four years in prison. Two years later, Nevada rubbed salt in the wound by completely banning Martin and two others via the Book. Other famous names have included Marshall Caifano, a Chicago mob leader (he was the first entry in 1960), mob associate Frank Rosenthal, Kansas city mob figure Anthony “Tony Ripe” Civella, and Ronald Harris, who was a former gaming control board computer expert who rigged slot machines. The last two were entered in the late 1990s, while the other two were much earlier in the list.

Once You Check In, You Can Never Leave

You have to go out of your way to get into the Black Book, fortunately. However, once you are there you will have a much harder time getting off the list. Most who have rid themselves of the book’s grip have only freed themselves through death. Abstaining from gambling will not even clear your name. One of the biggest criteria Nevada considers before adding someone to the Book is if that person has had a previous felony or committed a gaming violation in Nevada or another state. Players who also evade paying taxes or those who have an unsavoury reputation in the industry may be susceptible. The process of assigning someone to the list used to occur without due process. Fortunately, now nominees can stand up for themselves somewhat. Those accused are allowed to attend a public hearing to dispute the charges and inclusion. If any established members in the Book are caught entering a Nevada gaming establishment, the punishment is a gross misdemeanour charge. Those on the list are still able to gamble in airports, bars, and stores with less than 15 slot machines and no gaming tables.   Are you planning a trip to Las Vegas? You may also enjoy this blog.


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